A hallmark characteristic of Boston College is the selection of retreats available to students seeking the chance to venture off-campus, reflect, and gain a deeper understanding of themselves and others. Not all retreats revolve entirely around presentations and discussions, however. BC’s Outdoor Adventures (OA) program seeks to foster a sense of community through forays into nature around New England with groups of students.
Through Outdoor Adventures, students have the option, for only about $15, to undertake an impressive variety of activities, ranging from rock climbing and hiking to ice climbing and snowshoeing. Any equipment needed for the trip is included in the price, so students don’t have to spend additional money. Thanks to the continued effort of the Assistant Director and founder of the program, Eli Crispell, Montserrat provides additional funding for the more expensive week-long trips, allowing students from all financial backgrounds to participate.
The Gavel reached out to Molly Harrison, MCAS ‘23, and Ethan Daly, MCAS ‘22, to learn more about the OA program and how it has impacted their time at BC.
As a freshman, Molly had the opportunity to participate in Wild Eagles, a five-day trip reserved for incoming freshmen and transfer students right before move-in. A microcosm of the entire OA program, Wild Eagles offers many options for students looking to immerse themselves in nature with a small group of other students.
One aspect of the college transition process with which BC is particularly helpful is in building relationships between incoming students, and Wild Eagles is no exception.“It’s one of the best ways to make friends,” says Molly. “Everyone is welcome, no matter how much or how little you know about the activity.”
The inclusive nature of Wild Eagles is indicative of the welcoming atmosphere created by every OA program. This is why the people who take advantage of the trips available to them often create lasting bonds with the members of their groups. As a frequent trip leader, Ethan offers a unique perspective based on his involvement with Outdoor Adventures. His experiences showcase this vital quality of the program.
“If I wasn’t a leader in OA I probably would’ve transferred,” Ethan says. “This program has changed my BC experience for the better… I’ve made tons of friends and amazing memories.”
People interested in becoming leaders for OA take a semester-long course designed to teach wilderness and communication skills so that they are effective trip facilitators. The sessions include both classroom and outdoor instruction, as well as engaging training trips. For Ethan, the training trips were one of his favorite experiences; in particular, the trip he led last fall.
“Part of [training] is going on a three-day backpacking trip and running through scenarios,” Ethan explains. “It’s super funny, always good vibes, and this past fall specifically was a ton of fun. Perfect weather and a great group made for a great trip.”
Outdoor Adventures provides an incredible foundation for people to develop relationships that will last throughout their time at BC and beyond. If that isn’t enough to prompt registration, the aesthetic experiences are enjoyable on their own. As anyone involved in OA will explain, the beauty which groups are exposed to on trips is breathtaking.
To illustrate this point, Ethan describes one of his encounters with nature through OA. “The last morning, we woke up at five am and hiked out with a full moon as our backdrop,” He remembers. “Then we watched the sunrise over Vermont fields from a small diner... it was surreal.”